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Art, Illustration, Erik Nitsche, First Day Stamp Philatelic Cover, Equal Rights for Women, Gouache, 1984


Erik Nitsche (1908-1998)
Equal Rights under the Law
Fleetwood Division of Unicover Corporation, Cheyenne, Wyoming: 1984
Gouache, pen and ink, on illustration board
Signed lower right: Erik Nitsche
12 x 14 inches, image
15 x 20 inches, overall
Various original identification labels verso
Provenance: James A. Helzer (1946-2008)

Original illustration art by the influential 20th-century graphic designer Erik Nitsche for the German First Day Cover Society to accompany an 80pf stamp issued by the Deutsche Bundespost in Germany on November 8, 1984. The design conveys the principle of equal rights for women. Brightly colored male and female symbols with an equal sign between them are overlaid on a background pattern of rows of alternating outline male and female silhouettes drawn as paperdoll cutouts. As a commission for the German First Day Cover Society, the artwork was printed in the left half of first day cover envelopes, with the related postage stamp affixed in the upper right corner of the envelope and canceled as of the date of issue. The stamp itself was of similar design to Nitsche’s illustration, also with male and female gender symbols and an equal sign, by the designer Tröger. The gender equality theme is further represented in the title of the stamp — Gleichberchtigung — German for social equality. Gender equality has been guaranteed by the German Constitution, including an amendment in 1994. An example of the actual stamp — not included with the offered artwork for sale — is shown here, left.

Product description continues below.


This is one of over 200 philatelic first day covers that Nitsche designed in the 1980s for Unicover Corporation, a major philatelic publisher. Regarding Nitsche’s work for Unicover, graphic design author and educator Steven Heller observed, “His first day cover images are highly rendered — including various series of animals, insects, scenery, etc. Leaving abstraction behind, if only for the moment, he developed into an exquisite realist — and a master of this arcane postal art.”

Erik Nitsche was a Swiss-born graphic designer who had a long and distinguished international career. He studied art in Munich and worked for a few years in Paris before leaving for New York in 1934. Initially he worked as an illustrator and studio photographer for fashion and interior decorating magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar and Town and Country. In the 1940s he began receiving assignments for graphics for the aviation industry and corporate clients. He is probably best known for shaping the visual corporate identity for General Dynamics Corporation from 1955 to 1965 and for the series of scientific, music, and world history illustrated books he published under his own imprint in Geneva during the 1960s and 1970s. He went on to design postage stamps for the West German Ministry of Communications, and held a major contract with the Unicover Corporation, based in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to design over 200 philatelic first day covers in the mid 1980s. Before his death in 1998 he was inducted into the New York Art Director’s Club Hall of Fame. His designs have been exhibited and collected by the Museum of Modern Art.

Stamped verso: © Copyright 1984 by Fleetwood Division of Unicover Corporation, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82008 USA.

Labels attached verso by original publisher with title, name of artist, date, dimensions, and internal inventory information.

Condition: Generally fine overall, with only light toning and wear.


Geissler, Charlotte.”Equal Rights in Germany: An Exclusive Interview with Claudia Roth, Vice-President of the German Parliament.” September 10, 2019. Online at (3 March 2022).

Heller, Steven. “Erik Nitsche: The Reluctant Modernist.” Print. 1999. Online at: Typotheque. (3 March 2022).

Missfeldt, Martin. “Gender-Symbole für Mann und Frau (Gleichberechtigung).” (3 March 2022).

Additional information


20th Century